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Schools See Relief Thanks To Extra State Money

Local school districts have been feeling the pinch for years and are now feeling a little relief.

They just received money from the state’s $85 million budget surplus.

About $60 million is going to the 115 school districts in Idaho.

Each district received money based on its number of support units, which is basically the number of students to teachers.

“It was not expected. It was a pleasant surprise,” said Dr. Charles Shackett, superintendent for District 93.

It’s a $2 million surprise, but it is still leaving District 93 with a $4 million deficit over the last two years.

Bonneville County District 93 had to meet its budget by forcing employees to take five furlough days.

“Meaning the employees take five days off and don’t get paid for them, but with that additional money. They gave three days back, which is just a great thing,” said state Rep. Jeff Thompson, Idaho Falls District 33-Seat A.

District 91 in Idaho Falls is putting some of its money in savings.

“They are looking to the future, which is very wise especially since that was one-time money,” said Thompson.

State Rep. Jeff Thompson said it is an early projection, but the 2012 fiscal year could be looking up.

“It has been projected to have a surplus of a $175 to $179 million. Now that is projected. We don’t know what will happen in the future,” said Thompson.

“Things are still very troublesome in the finances, but there is good word at the state that there could be a surplus, so we are hoping for that,” said Shackett.

More will be known when the Legislature meets in January with six months worth of numbers.

Thompson said it is thanks to the state’s savings accounts this money was available, but now they are depleted, and with our economy in an uncertain future, Thompson said schools need to keep their priorities straight.

When it comes to possibly consolidating the two school districts, a recent independent study shows it would cost more money.

“But at the end of the day it is the voters’ decision. So it would be interesting to me to put it on a ballot and see what the voters actually say,” said Thompson.

Shackett said the districts are looking at ways they could save costs by combining services.

Idaho Falls and Bonneville County districts are the sixth and seventh largest in the state.

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